Hannah bounced along on her thick legged, black and white pony. The horses that they had ridden to Rei’s Shrine had been returned to the abbey. All, that is, but one. Gallant was still missing. She had hoped that maybe he would turn up at the abbey, and that would mean that Roger was somewhere nearby. That had not been the case.
After that she had needed a new horse. She picked this one because she liked its stout form, flowing mane, and feathering over the hooves. It had one blue eye that kind of freaked her out if she looked into it for too long.
It was a glorious autumn day, a month after the events at Rei’s Shrine, and she smiled in spite of herself at the golden colors and crisp air. After a moment of that, she sighed. Even the beautiful autumn day could only make her forget the crushing guilt for a brief moment. It wasn’t enough that she had killed him, but she’d let him get kidnapped. It was entirely possible that he was dead by now, and that she had completely failed to right her mistake.
She shook her head. Feeling sorry for yourself is all very good and all, but she had work to do. After a month of searching, she finally had what she called a lead. A farmer claimed to have seen a man leading a pony with a girl on it, and all the right descriptions matched. She just had to keep the course and she might be able to catch up.
And so she bounced along down the scenic forest path. Ari and Hil had not joined her in her search, despite her begging. Hil said he felt compelled to help rebuild the fortress. After the battle the goddess, Rei, had descended with a crash in a bolt of lightning, and Ari had begged an audience with her. After that, Ari had said some nonsense about having to rebuild the orders of worship or something. It wasn’t that important, all Hannah cared about was that she was alone in her search.
She was alright with that. She had been alone before her death, and being an angel of death wasn’t exactly a social occupation for the afterlife. Besides, the only person she really wanted to see right now was Roger.
Why did she care? It’s true, she felt tremendous guilt for accidentally murdering him, but there was more to it than that.
Could it be romantic feelings? She dismissed that out of hand. She had already rejected him to his face, and her opinion in that regard hadn’t changed much. Instead it seemed she had merely become fond of him. She didn’t want to be lonely anymore, and Roger liked having her around. He was someone that she could experience life with, and she didn’t have many people like that. Also, in her attempts to make up for her mistake, she realized she had taken a part of him into herself. She felt triumph in his successes, and sadness when he was sad. She didn’t want to kiss him, but that didn’t stop her from caring.
She sighed again. What a bother. It would have been so much easier to care about someone like Hil, someone who could take care of themself. Then again, maybe it was harder to care about someone like that. He didn’t really need her to care.
Coming around the next corner she pulled her horse up short. There was Gallant, Roger, and Shurre-Na just sitting there, calm as could be, eating lunch. Roger looked up at her when he heard the horse approaching, surprise written on his face.
“Hannah!” he called out.
She waved back at him, but when Shurre-Na turned back to face her, she dropped her hand to her sword hilt. Shurre-Na gave her a little wave, and then nonchalantly returned to eating her food. Hannah loosened her grip, confused.
“No need for that,” Roger said, walking up to stand next to her knee, “Nice horse.”
“Thanks,” Hannah said, confused, “Um, I’m here to rescue you, I guess.”
“I appreciate it,” he said happily, “But it’s not really necessary. Would you care to join us?”
Whether he just meant for lunch or for something more Hannah wasn’t sure, but she happily accepted his invitation.